Thursday 22 October 2009

The world impact of Afghanistan's drugs trade

In a sequel to its September Afghan Opium Survey 2009, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has produced a new report called "Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: the transnational threat of Afghan opium.
The new report makes for uncomfortable reading. We are told that every year more people die from Afghan opium - perhaps 100,000 globally - than from any other drug in the world. The Islamic Republic of Iran, for example, is swamped by Afghan opium, with an estimated one million opiate users. In Russia more people died from drugs each year (30-40,000) than the total number of Red Army soldiers killed in Afghanistan.In Central Asia, the injection of Afghan heroin has led to an HIV epidemic caused by the sharing of dirty needles.
Overall the global market for Afghan opium is worth around $65 billion. The trade has turned the Afghan-Pakistan border into a "massive illicit free trade zone of drugs, chemical precursors, money, people and weapons." In the years 2006-7 the drug-related funds accruing to insurgents and warlords were estimated by UNODC at $300-400 million a year. Although that figure may have declined since then, the drug trade is now a major source of funds for the Taliban.
The report's most disturbing finding relates to Central Asia: "The most sinister development yet is taking shape outside Afghanistan. Drugs are funding insurgency in Central Asia where the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Party of Turkmenistan, the East Turkistan Liberation Organization and other extremist groups are also profiting from the trade. The Silk Route, turned into a heroin route,is carving out a path of death and violence through one of the world’s most strategic, yet volatile regions. The perfect storm of drugs, crime and insurgency that has swirled around the Afghanistan/Pakistan border for years, is heading for Central Asia. If quick preventive measures are not put into place, a big chunk of Eurasia could be lost – together with its massive energy reserves."

1 comment:

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